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Israel Frees Another 550 Palestinians

Release follows clash at internment compound
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2011 4:54 AM CST

(Newser) – Israel has set free another 550 Palestinian prisoners, completing the deal that secured the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Thousands gathered at the former home of Yasser Arafat to celebrate alongside Palestinian officials. Most prisoners were directed to the West Bank; some 41 were sent to Gaza, and a handful were released to east Jerusalem and Jordan. The International Red Cross assisted in the operation, Israel said. The process, however, didn't go entirely smoothly, CNN reports.

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At least 20 Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were injured in fighting near the prisoners' internment compound prior to the release. An Israeli official cited an "illegal riot," with the prisoners' families and friends hurling rocks; a Palestinian doctor said Israeli security forces had fired rubber bullets and tear gas. A Palestinian official, meanwhile, called for the freedom of other prisoners, noting that negotiations couldn't resume without an "immediate halt of all settlement activities" and "the recognition of the state borders, including Jerusalem, and the release of all prisoners as agreed to with the previous Israeli government." (Read more Israel stories.)

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